VIEWS: 2 PAGES: 26 POSTED ON: 3/10/2012
Today in History…. • U.S. forces defeat Japan at the Battle of Iwo Jima. March 17th, 1945 CONGRESS The Legislative Branch I. What is Congress? • Congress: The law making body of the government. – “The Great Compromise: A bicameral legislature • Senate: based on equal representation – Every state has TWO senators! • House: based on population – Nebraska has THREE representatives! II. The Senate • Qualifications: – 30 years old + – US citizen for 9 years + – Resident of state representing • Term Limits: – Six year term limit – One third of senate is up for re- election every TWO years. III. The House • Qualifications: – 25 years old + – US citizen for 7 years + – Resident of state representing • Term Limits: – 2 years – Entire house is up for re-election every TWO years! IV. Determining Representation • How does government determine how may representatives each state gets? – Representation is based on population – Census is taken every 10 years. • Census determines the population of each state, which in turn determines the number of representatives. • What is gerrymandering? – Congressional districts are redrawn after each census. – Gerrymandering is when districts are redrawn to favor a political party, politician, or group of people. – Example? V. Salary and Benefits • 27th Amendment: – If Congress decides to give itself a raise, the raise does not go into effect until the next term! • Perks of the job: – Annual Salary: $145,000 (Speaker: $186,000) – Allowance for staff members/assistants – Free trips home – Immunity – Franking Privilege V. What is Immunity? • Immunity: legal protection – Member of Congress cannot be arrested or sued while Congress is in session. • Why is immunity important? – A Congress person’s job is to represent his/her constituents in government…pretty hard to do in jail! V. What is franking? • Franking Privilege: right to mail official letters/packages “free” of charge. – Not really “free”…our taxes pay for postage! • Why is franking important? – Allows Congress person’s to communicate with constituents on issues. – Franking cannot be used for election purposes! VI. Powers of Congress • Powers of Congress can be divided into three categories: – Delegated Powers: outlined in Article I, Section 8 – Enumerated Powers: expands powers of Congress via the “elastic clause” in Article I, Section 8 – Denied Powers: outlined in Article I, Section 9 VII. Delegated Powers • Article I, Section 8 outlines the constitutional powers of Congress: – Make laws! – Regulate & encourage trade – Declare war – Ratify treaties – Coin money – Etc. VIII. Enumerated Powers • Enumerated powers are powers that are implied by the “necessary and proper” clause of the Constitution. – Congress has powers that are NOT in the Constitution, but necessary for them to do their job! – Examples: • Collect income taxes (16th Amendment) IX. Denied Powers • Article I, Section 9 specifically states powers that Congress does NOT have. • Examples: – Cannot grant titles of nobility – Cannot pass ex post facto laws • cannot punish an individual for a crime that was legal before law was passed. – Cannot pass bills of attainder • Cannot sentence a person to prison without a trial – Cannot suspend writ of habeas corpus • “Show me the body”: government must show probable cause. – Cannot favor a state over another – Cannot pass laws that violate Bill of Rights X. Organization & Leadership • Organization is what makes it possible for the legislative branch to get anything done! • Most work is done in committees. – (Def): specialized group of senators who study proposed bills, hold hearings and conduct investigations to obtain information on bills. – Lot’s of different types of committees & members of Congress usually belong to 2-3. X. Organization & • Leadership Standing Committees: permanent committees of each house of Congress. – Senate= 16 ; House = 19 – Responsible for special area of congressional business. – Research and decide if bill should go before Congress. – Example: Foreign Relations Committee • Subcommittees: each standing committee is then broken down into smaller groups. – Deal with specific issue of bill or committee. – Example: Africa, Asia & Pacific, European Affairs X. Organization & Leadership • Conference Committees: members of both the House and the Senate create a committee in order to come up with a compromise on a bill. – Temporary & only considers one bill. – Only created if House and Senate pass two different versions of same bill. – Example: Minimum Wage Bill (2007) X. Organization & Leadership • Constitution only provides for three congressional offices: – Speaker of the House (Nanci Pelosi) • Most powerful position in House. • Non member can speak under called upon by Speaker. • Always a member of the majority party and usually a long time member of Congress. – President of the Senate (Dick Cheney) • Cannot take part in Senate debate and may only vote in case of a tie. – President Pro Tempore (Robert C. Byrd) • Leader only in Vice President’s absence. • Elected by members of Senate. • Longest serving member of the majority party X. Organization & Leadership • Political Parties also create leadership positions in Congress. – Group with most members is the MAJORITY Party (currently Democrats) – Group with least member is the MINORITY Party (currently Republicans) • This is done during caucuses: – Each party will select their floor leaders. – Floor Leader: responsible for guiding party’s proposed bills through Congress. XI. “I’m Just a Bill” • Legislative Branch is responsible for MAKING LAWS. • Both houses must approve a bill before it is sent to the president. • How does a bill become a law? – There’s a lot that goes in before an idea becomes law of the land! XI. “I’m Just A Bill” • Someone has an idea for a bill: – Ideas can come from… • Members of Congress • Citizens (you and me!) • Interest Groups (ex: NRA) • Congressional Committees • President XI. “I’m Just A Bill” • How does an idea become a bill? – It has to be introduced by a member of Congress. – Once an idea is introduced, it is written out, dropped in the hopper, and assigned a letter (S or H )and a number. – Then the official bill is read to members of the house in which it originated, and printed in the Congressional Record. – Finally, it is sent to a committee. XI. “I’m Just A Bill” • What happens in committees? – The bill is referred to the appropriate subcommittee. – Committee hearings are open to the public (C-SPAN!) – Committees decide whether or not the bill is necessary based on their research & investigation. – May revise bill – Makes recommendation as to why Congress should pass the bill. XI. “I’m Just A Bill” • What happens then? – Bill is put on Congressional Calendar. – Bill is then debated on the floor (read & debated three times!). – Vote taken (yay or nay). – The bill can be amended at any time! – After third reading, roll-call vote taken. – Then the bill is sent to the other house of Congress and goes through the same process. XI. “I’m Just A Bill” • What happens if both houses don’t pass the same exact bill? – Conference Committee meets and attempt to reach a compromise. • Set up of equal number or Representatives and Senators. – The Compromised bill is then sent back to both houses and voted on again! XI. From Bill to Law… • Finally, the final draft of the bill must be approved by the president. – If president approves it, the bill is official law. – If the president denies (vetoes), the bill is dead! – If the President waits ten days without doing anything… • If Congress is in session: bill automatically becomes law. • If Congress has adjourned: bill dies (pocket veto) XII. The “What-If” Factor… • If the President vetoes, is that it? – No, Congress can override a veto with a 2/3 vote. – Very uncommon and unlikely.